Tag: hip-hop

EightSixty Custom Skate Shop: Grand Opening




So me and the sidekick headed over to the Eightsixty Custom Skate Shop to celebrate their grand opening. And I will be honest…it was an event. Not only is this place a skate shop, but it always has an indoor skate park. Dope right? So the first half of the day you got to see skaters of all skill levels do their thing on the ramps. The second part of the day that set up a stage and had some of the amazing local music talent grace the mic. Everyone from Maia CC to MC/Host Joey Batts. They even had a impromptu freestyle session just to keep the feeling going. Which, of course I jumped in on. Food and drinks outside and a little stand for my homie, Dewey’s “Hartford” line of gear.

Even though the rain came down, people came out to support. And that meant alot. You see the Skater crowd has always been seen as slackers who can never really do anything. Hoodlums who run around with no respect for anything. Almost exactly what they say about the Hip Hop crowd. But this…this among many others showed that both crowds could come together to accomplish something. Some may see this as just another skate shop, but I’m not that foolish.

I see EightSixty Custom for what it really is. A symbol as a local business. A sign that the kids you thought were lost, really know where they are and where they are going.

This skate shop is the sign that when not given the avenue or venue, we have what it takes to create it for ourselves.

Thank you EightSixty Custom. not for eventing me to an event, but for making me apart of a movement.

For more pictures from the event check out the link below…..


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The Hip Hop Culture : Business & Branding with ibii™



One of the great things about Hip Hop is it isn’t just music. There is the art…the life…the dance and of course, the fashion. But there is another corner stone of Hip Hop that people don’t really talk too much about, but it is still becoming a stronger part of the game. And that is the business. From Rappers promoting their own brand to brands using the heavy influence of the music to market and push their product. Down to companies using the basic back bone motto of Hip Hop in order to create some amazing. One of those type of companies is ibii™.

ibii™ is a movement that represents the inspiration that brings ideas and imagination to life. With one eye targeting its dreams and the other focused on the love of living, ibii always sees opportunities where others see obstacles. and with its mouth sown shut, ibii’s physical form represents the ability to do less talking and more doing, while its square head serves as a constant reminder of the box that once kept all its aspirations locked away.

ibii has that it-factor. that unique ability to move us and get us going. make us laugh.fill our brains with ideas.remind us that flaws are fun and there’s no need to let the pressures of perfection hold us back from at least trying. ibii is who we all secretly aspire to be, and the good news is, no matter who you are, every one has the power of ibii within them. but only those who want it bad enough, can unleash it. so if you’re ready to unlock the potential bottled up within you, take that first bold step and allow yourself to be inspired. Free your ibii and watch as ideas and imagination free your mind.

I had the lovely honor of meeting the masterminds behind ibii™ while taking in the events of the 2014 Trinity International Hip Hop Festival. While showing love at the event, the team behind ibii™ saw this as a chance to connect with the core audience of the company. The bright and creative youthful spirits that is known as the Hip Hop fans. After the event was over I made it a point to stay in touch with ibii™ creator, Craig Henderson in order to chop it up and find out a little more about the company and it’s goals.

Jack Nickelz: Ok…tell us about what made you come up with the ideology behind ibii?

I was working for a fortune 100 company for many years and I thought with my talent and personality I would climb the corporate ladder and have the window seat that everyone desires. However, I realized this was not my true purpose. It wasn’t something I loved. Every year I grew to realize that no matter what I did for this company, my worth and potential would never see the growth I longed for. I started to lose sight of my purpose.

Sitting in a cubical for long days without being challenged and unmotivated went on for four years. During that time, I kept myself motivated by being thankful to have a job in this struggling economy. But I soon realized that accepting a check was not good enough. I have purpose and as a talented artist, I wanted everyone to see the real Craig Henderson; a free thinker, and more importantly, a visionary. I wanted people to see that I could inspire that positive connection that we lose along the way.

As I look back, everyone saw who I was except me. I was truly destined to make a difference. My faith and focus were in the wrong place. I was always making excuses of why I couldn’t do something even though I had that support group.

My moment of clarity came when I realized that I was not the only one to feel this way. I realized that I had to inspire those to follow their true self. I realized that all I had to do was to continue to be creative, be true to myself, focus on my dreams and goals, love what I do and take more action.  Hence ibii was born, a symbol to consistently remind me of what I needed to do to live a purposeful life for myself.

Jack Nickelz: What made you want to showcase your stuff at the Trinity International Hip Hop Festival?

Actually this was our first showcase. My business partner’s sister graduated from Trinity College just a year prior and she informed us of the event.  She felt it was a great fit for us. We decided that it was the perfect venue because of the core audience. We see young adults as one of our core demographics that have an abundance of ideas and imagination. It was also the perfect venue because our concept would be quickly grasped and understood. It was something that could reinforce the fact that they are not alone in the challenge to discovering their purpose.

Jack Nickelz: Now at the festival, you had shirts and stickers. What else does ibii have in production?

We also have ibii snapback hats, pins, posters, and luggage. If you get the chance to visit, ibiiworld.com you will be able to see all that we offer. Our goal is to grow the brand beyond fashion and explore other mediums to exemplify whom ibii is.

Jack Nickelz: What do you think sets you apart from the other companies that are in the same field as you?

We strongly believe that we are more than a symbol, there is a meaning. We are not just a T-shirt company pushing designs. We are a concept that pushes the idea of inspiration. When you wear our clothing or purchase any one of our products you are now a representative of inspiration and free thinking. We want ibii to be synonymous with those that take action and follow their dreams no matter the obstacles. You are true to yourself and you inspire others to do the same. Our goal is a LIFESTYLE, not a fad.

Jack Nickelz: How important has social media become to what you are trying to do?

Social media has had an enormous influence on our brand.  We are now able to spread our message instantaneously to millions of individuals with a push of a button. We have had people from Brazil to South Africa supporting our movement. More importantly, we believe its more significant to the consumer if they truly understand what they are buying, social media gives us that opportunity to really extend that message globally. 

Jack Nickelz: How does Hip Hop play a role in what you do with ibii?

Hip hop is a form of expression. Whether its dance or music. ibii encourages everyone to do what he or she loves. It’s the only way to feel fulfilled. Music affects people in many ways from emotion regulation to cognitive development. It also provides a means for self-expression. How can ibii miss such an event like this?

Jack Nickelz: What do you think is on the horizon for ibii?

This will be a great year for ibii. We are currently shopping with local vendors to put ibii T-shirts and hats in a few stores. We also plan to meet with several schools to add an ibii school program as part of their curriculum. We are also in development talks with a TV animation studio that would potentially create ibii as a children’s character as well.

Jack Nickelz: If you had unlimited resources available to you, what would be one of the things that you do?

I would develop a “world” community based program that focused on bringing children and adults to work together with the common goal of creating solutions to our endless problems. Creative minds are powerful and I think we need to foster a program that encourages us to go beyond the limits with our imagination and ignore the negative stimulations that are plaguing our world today.

Jack Nickelz: How Important is Hip Hop to the fashion and vice versa?

Hip-hop is influence. Hip-hop is today’s new leader. Hip-hop is our voice and our motivation. It’s a platform that our generation now looks up to. I embrace hip hop however I do believe that it’s also crippling us. We are now living in a world of entitlement and I want to put some positivity back into it making those aware that everything takes time. When you wear our apparel you represent positive energy and you are making it known that you are living life with purpose.

Jack Nickelz: When you are choosing designs to run with, what are the criteria that you use?

We keep in mind, purpose, color and space. We utilize these three elements to help consumers understand ibii. We are still educating our customers of our purpose. It’s important that we don’t complicate our designs.

Jack Nickelz: What are some mistakes you have seen other you entrepreneurs make?

We think some entrepreneurs tend to take uncalculated risks and set unrealistic expectations. Everything takes time and we’re in it for the long haul.  It takes years for greatness and we’re not looking for quick fame. Being a small company we are very disciplined with our spending habits, ensure strong communication, and plan our implementation of ibii methodically.

Jack Nickelz: Was there a certain business model you followed when creating your own business?

Our business model is to grow ibii as a household name. We plan to do that in a staged approach. Our current demographic is 12 – 36 years of age but we believe ibii has no demographic. Our main source of revenue is t-shirts, hats, pins, posters, and custom luggage through event sales and our website, ibiiworld.com. We plan to extend our reach by creating school programs as part of school curriculums and put our product in small stores. Our goal for this year is to be in three stores and two schools.

Jack Nickelz: Well thank you for taking time out to do this interview. Is there anything else you would like to tell the fans and readers?

Please feel free to check us out on all social media outlets @freeibii and our website www.ibiiworld.com. Send us video with ibii or possible your version of ibii and lets spread inspiration wherever we go.  Live life with purpose and the world is yours. Feel free to send us a 30 second video or short blog post of how ibii inspires you to info@ibiiworld.com.  Remember aspire to inspire.

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50 Shades of Danari Gray



To many he is the guru and mastermind of Olympus Fitness. The man helping people shape themselves with intense workouts. To others he is a musical genius able to craft wonderful pieces of art for any artist of any style. To me…he is the guy that would come to the house and would engage in sample battles and hold hold beat listening sessions with. No matter what he maybe known as, make no mistake Danari Gray is someone everybody should know…

Jack Nickelz: What got you into Production?

When I moved to America in 2002 I always thought I’d be a rapper. But I was 17 years old and couldn’t afford beats so with the help of my friend at the time assad Jackson who put me on to fruity loops I started making my own beats and then I started learning how to craft the music with the help of jack Nickelz and Stout aka Tone Benjaminz who I consider my sensei’s when it comes to beat making.

Jack Nickelz: Who are your influences when it comes to music?

Everything and everyone. If you’re good I want to be better than you and if you suck I want to make sure I’m never compared to you. But my biggest musical influence is quincy jones. He’s set the bar very high for musicians and he’s a man who has shoes that can never be filled musically.

Jack Nickelz: Out of all the style of production that you know, from sample to playing things out live…what do you feel your nitch is?

Playing my music out is where it comes so naturally for me. I feel like I can really show off when I hop on the keys. I like to sample too but I feel like it’s just too easy for me. I want to bring some notes to life that’ll make your brain cells shit on themself.

Jack Nickelz: As someone who has been doing production for quite some time now, what do you feel are some of the mistakes that up and coming producers make?

Biggest mistake is thinking you’re going to automatically get rich doing this or thinking that you’re going to get signed tomorrow because you won a beat battle somewhere. I also see a lot of unoriginality. Fads being followed for 6 months and then poof that producer is never heard from again. But when it comes to music a huge mistake I see being made is that producers think they have to buy the best and latest equipment in order to make music. It’s not what you have. It’s how you use it.

Jack Nickelz: Do you feel the fact that since beat making software is available to almost everybody that the game has been watered down?

No, I think it gives everyone a chance to express themselves. If the software wasn’t available the cornballs that are out would still find a way to infiltrate the game. It’s all about who you know and a lot of them know the right people. I mean you have a lot of dope producers who don’t get discovered simply because they don’t know the right people.

Jack Nickelz: In the day in age of getting what you pay for, how important is it to get top notch production?

Well, if we’re judging by what’s playing on the radio then it’s not important at all. Artists are rapping about how much money they make but still asking for free beats. I’ve had artists say yo your beats are the so hard but my producer gives me free beats so I’m a rock with those. Even if I could give him a hit record he’ll take the chance to have a mediocre album for free instead of actual hot records.

Jack Nickelz: Now I know you have dealt with a number of artists, what are some of the mistakes you think they make when asking for production?

Number 1 biggest mistake…asking for a track that sounds like something that is already out‼! Man the record is already out‼ just hop on the remix. I have never heard a record work that sounded like something else and it was not the remix.

Jack Nickelz: now outside of production and various musical masterpieces that you have crafted…I hear you are into fitness. how did you get into that?

I was always in the gym. One day a friend of mine who is a well known radio personality in our area asked me to help him shed some weight. I said sure no problem and once he dropped almost 100 lbs everything else skyrocketed.

Jack Nickelz: With guys like Dr. Dre and Busta Ryhmes around, do you feel like fitness and Hip Hop go hand in hand?

Oh definitely, you see everyone hitting the gym now. Ladies love the muscles. You also build endurance and stamina for tours. You feel more confident about yourself hence that puts more confidence into your music. If you’re fit and are building a major brand then being in shape can land you other deals such as commericals and print work. Yea, it can lead to a lot of things but fitness and music definitely go hand in hand.

Jack Nickelz: What are some tips for those who may be thinking about getting into shape?

Always eat breakfast, cut out sugar, dairy, bread, and pasta. Stay active. Workout for 1 hour a day and drink a lot of water.

Jack Nickelz: Now let me ask you…what do you enjoy more…the fitness or the music?

That’s a loaded question. I plead the fifth‼

Jack Nickelz: Well, thank you for taking time out to answer a few questions for CT Hip Hop…is there anything else you would like to say to the fans?

Thank you for all the support through the years whether it be fitness or music. I am truly humbled and appreciative of all the love and I plan to continue to make everyone proud for many years to come!

Check out these tracks produced by Danari Gray…

Pieces by Devn Rose


Finally Home by Jack Nickelz w/ Sinis & BK



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Jonny Empire – I Love Beats music video



I guess this video fell between the cracks of submissions to cthiphop but this one is truly a dope cut. Jonny Empire is an emcee from New Haven and his mixtape is called “Change for the Better”. DJ Mo Nikls supplied the cuts for this song and Mike Squires did the video. Sounds like somethin from the 90s, in the best way.

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Danny Concepts – High Tide (ft. Dj Semi)



Danny Concepts is an emcee from Waterbury. Danny has a dope verse and Semi GOES IN on the cuts over Joey Bada$$’s “Waves”.

Peep it.

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Duece Bug – Dont Sleep (ft. Sid Wilson of Slipknot)



Duece Bug of the Full Blast Movement dropped a video for his song “Dont Sleep” ft. Sid Wilson. Edwin Escobar did the video. This is the 2nd video from his album “MANTIS”.

This video is CRAZY

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Kid Karma – I Need An Angel (ft. Joint Inc)



Kid Karma is an up and coming emcee from Litchfield CT. He dropped a video for his song “I Need An Angel” featuring Joint Inc. Jeffery Doomer did the video. The song is really dope.

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Adrian Easton ft. PMO – Hold On



P.Mo from Rowayton and Adrian Easton just dropped a video for their remix of “Hold On, Were goin home” by Drake. Mike Squires directed the video, so you know the visuals are on point!

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Political Animals – Man The Mic



Political Animals are a group you should be familiar with if you follow CTHipHop.net but if you’re not then go check them out ASAP. They just dropped a video for their new single “Man The Mic”.

Peep it:

Check out more of their music at https://www.facebook.com/politicalanimalsct or at http://www.pacthiphop.com

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A lots going on with CT Hip Hop.net



Our founder and head contributor Brash is going through a lot right now and Ive offered to step in and help out for the future of the site and the Hip Hop scene in CT. If you guys want some music or anything posted email me at ThaRedBaronCT@gmail.com

Connecticut, we have created something beautiful and we need to do everything we can to keep this thriving.

– Tha Red Baron

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Check Your Sound…HiFadility Pt. 2



At the 2013 Trinity International Hip Hop Festival, I had a chance to check out the Musicology 101 : Producer Showcase. I was there to check out a producer from Boston, Mass by the name of HiFadility. After watching him wow the crowd with his unique sound, we had a chance to sit down and chat a little bit. I hope you enjoy.

Also be on the lookout for his newest project, The Traveler LP, Release date in early May
For any more info, you check check the following links…
Twitter: @iamhifadility
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Check Your Sound…HiFadility Pt. 1



At the 2013 Trinity International Hip Hop Festival, I had a chance to check out the Musicology 101 : Producer Showcase. I was there to check out a producer from Boston, Mass by the name of HiFadility. After watching him wow the crowd with his unique sound, we had a chance to sit down and chat a little bit. I hope you enjoy.

Also be on the lookout for his newest project, The Traveler LP, Release date in early May
For any more info, you check check the following links…
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9th Annual Hartford Hip-Hop Festival



9th Annual Hartford Hip Hop Festival this Saturday Nov. 17th!! 11am-4pm at Hartford Public Library 500 Main St Hartford CT, Free Family Event hosted by Self Suffice ft a Youth BBoy/BGirl Battle, Popping Battle, DJ Stealth on the breaks, Live Performances by Kemet Maroon, Logikil, Qusharia Perry, Troy Eason & more, Awards Ceremony, Art Gallery, Vendors & Free Giveaways 2! Event brought to you by the L.X.Y. Community Center, Zulu Nation 860 & Mic On Deck, come out & celebrate Hip Hop History month with us next Saturday, Nov. 17th!
Saturday, November 17, 2012.
11:00am until 4:00pm.
Free family event
Hosted by Self Suffice w/ DJ Stealth

Free giveaways
Youth Bboy Battle
Popping Battle
Awards ceremony
Art Gallery

Hartford Public Library
500 Main st
Downtown Hartford CT

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Interview with ILL and The Saurus!!!!!!!



Holy crap! The Takeover was nuts! More related posts soon, but for now, here’s an interview with The Saurus and ILL from after the battles!!!!!!!


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Congrats to Ap!



Last night was the first ever CT Music Awards… I didn’t even know. It sounds like a good idea to me… I wish I had heard about it going to down to begin with. Apathy took home, deservingly, the Best Hip-Hop (pictured above). I co-sign.

On another note, Apathy also dropped two new CDs that you should buy, immediately. Buy them directly from the Demigodz store here. I’ve heard nothing but good things regarding both of them, and one of the two new releases are a collection of throw-back joints from the mid 90s.


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